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Robert H. Yolken, M.D.

Photo of Dr. Robert H. Yolken, M.D.

Theodore and Vada Stanley Distinguished Professor of Neurovirology in Pediatrics

Professor of Pediatrics

Expertise: Bipolar Disorder, General Pediatrics, Infectious Diseases, Pediatric Infectious Disease, Schizophrenia

Research Interests: Neurovirology; Schizophrenia; Schizophrenia risks; Bipolar disorder; Role of perinatal infections in subsequent brain development

Locations

The Johns Hopkins Hospital
Appointment Phone: 410-614-0732

600 N. Wolfe Street
Sheikh Zayed Tower
Baltimore, MD 21287 map
Phone: 410-614-0732
Fax: 410-955-3723

Background

Dr. Robert H. Yolken is the Theodore and Vada Stanley Distinguished Professor of Neurovirology in pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He holds a joint appointment in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and acts as chair of the Stanley Division of Pediatric Neurovirology, the nation’s first pediatric research center designed to investigate links between severe mental illness (including schizophrenia and manic depressive disorders) and early childhood viral infection.

He and his research colleagues speculate that a virus invades the brain and then lies dormant for years before triggering the onset of schizophrenia or manic-depressive illness in adolescence and young adulthood. They are investigating as possible viral triggers herpes, influenza A and B, and the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, which is carried by cats and farm animals. They believe that in the future antiviral medications might be developed to treat or prevent schizophrenia in some individuals.

The overall goal of the research laboratory is to develop a training and research program devoted to the elucidation of the role of infection and immunity in the etiology of schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. Interests also include elucidating the role of perinatal infections in subsequent brain development. 

Dr. Yolken received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and completed a residency at Yale New Haven Hospital. He also trained at the National Institutes of Health before joining the Hopkins faculty in 1979.

He is author or coauthor of more than 250 scientific papers and the Manual of Clinical Microbiology and Beasts of the Earth.

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Titles

  • Theodore and Vada Stanley Distinguished Professor of Neurovirology in Pediatrics
  • Professor of Pediatrics
  • Joint Appointment in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Education

Additional Training

M.D.
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA

Training
Residency
Yale New Haven Hospital
New Haven, CT

Research & Publications

Selected Publications

View all on Pubmed

Severance EG, Prandovszky E, Castiglione J, Yolken RH. "Gastroenterology issues in schizophrenia: why the gut matters." Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2015 May;17(5):574. doi: 10.1007/s11920-015-0574-0. PubMed PMID: 25773227.

Yolken RH, Severance EG, Sabunciyan S, Gressitt KL, Chen O, Stallings C, Origoni A, Katsafanas E, Schweinfurth LA, Savage CL, Banis M, Khushalani S, Dickerson FB. "Metagenomic Sequencing Indicates That the Oropharyngeal Phageome of Individuals With Schizophrenia Differs From That of Controls." Schizophr Bull. 2015 Feb 9. pii: sbu197. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 25666826.

Yolken RH, Jones-Brando L, Dunigan DD, Kannan G, Dickerson F, Severance E, Sabunciyan S, Talbot CC Jr, Prandovszky E, Gurnon JR, Agarkova IV, Leister F, Gressitt KL, Chen O, Deuber B, Ma F, Pletnikov MV, Van Etten JL. "Reply to Kjartansdóttir et al.: Chlorovirus ATCV-1 findings not explained by contamination." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Mar 3;112(9):E927. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1424665112. Epub 2015 Feb 5. PubMed PMID: 25654982; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4352770.

Barnes LL, Capuano AW, Aiello AE, Turner AD, Yolken RH, Torrey EF, Bennett DA. "Reply to Itzhaki." J Infect Dis. 2015 Jan 29. pii: jiv052. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 25635124.

Li YE, Kannan G, Pletnikov MV, Yolken RH, Xiao J. "Chronic infection of Toxoplasma gondii downregulates miR-132 expression in multiple brain regions in a sex-dependent manner." Parasitology. 2015 Apr;142(4):623-32. doi: 10.1017/S003118201400167X. Epub 2014 Oct 29. PubMed PMID: 25351997.

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